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Happy Valentine Day. It’s that time of year of where the businesses market towards couples and hopeless romantics and make single people feel bad about their relationship status. It is also a time of year that studios attempt to cash in with big romantic movies. 2017’s contender is Fifty Shades Darker, the sequel to the BDSM flick Fifty Shades of Grey. However Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey have one of the most unhealthy relationships in recent cinematic memory, being a poor representation of BDSM relationships and their relationship is based on one of them wearing down the other. So let’s look at some of the worst couples and love triangles in mainstream films.
10. Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson – Spider-man 3
Let’s start with a superhero couple, one of the most famous in the genre: Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy. In the first two films Peter and Mary Jane were kept apart despite their attraction to each other: Peter loved Mary Jane since there were in grade school but had to reject her at the end when he accepts his alter-ego. They finally got together at the end of Spider-Man 2 after Mary Jane skips her wedding to John Jameson.
Yet after all that Peter turns out to be a bad boyfriend, becoming self-absorbed due to Spider-man’s popularity. He ignores the fact Mary Jane’s life is falling apart after being fired from a Broadway show and when she does try to confide in Peter he turns the subject back to himself. During a public event Peter as Spider-Man kissed Gwen Stacy the same way he kissed Mary Jane in the first film. This happened before the symbiote bonded with Peter.
When Peter dons the black Spider-Man suit he becomes a jerk and the suit amplifies his anger. After Mary Jane dumps Peter, our hero got payback by taking Gwen Stacy on a dumb date to the jazz club Mary Jane worked at and when Peter fought with the bouncers he ended up punching his ex.
9. FDR, Tuck and Lauren – This Means War
The action-rom-com This Means War was a movie that took a decade to make and had a number of big name actors attached before Chris Pine, Tom Hardy and Reese Witherspoon took on the roles. It ended up being a film that all three wished they hadn’t bothered with.
FDR (Pine) and Tuck (Hardy) are CIA agents and best friends who end up getting busted down to desk jobs after a mission in Hong Kong goes wrong. Both agents also end up dating the same woman, Lauren Scott (Witherspoon) and after the agents find out, they use CIA resources to spy on Lauren and sabotage one another.
Even for a silly little-weight comedy with a predictable outcome, This Means War has numerous problems: the first is wouldn’t want one of the first lessons in spy school be do not put your personal details on a dating website? Other issues include FDR and Tuck look like stalkers because they use the CIA to gather information on Lauren, including bugging her house and FDR coming off worse because he actively sets out to wear down Lauren. This Means War also made the tattoo-clad, muscle-bound Tom Hardy as the safe choice.
One of the alternative endings for This Means War was FDR and Tuck picked each other: it was meant to be a joke but it would have made more narrative sense if it was real end.
8. Kelly and Justin – From Justin to Kelly
From Justin to Kelly is a notorious film that was only made because American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson and American Idol finalist Justin Guarini were contractually obligated to. This shows with the movie having a 10% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a 2.1 out of 10 on IMDB and was released on DVD and VHS after a week-long theatrical release.
From Justin to Kelly has a cookie-cutter plot about a college student (Clarkson) going on a spring break and a party organizer (Guarini) looks to profit from the antics. The pair were far from natural actors, especially Clarkson with her apathetic performance; she knew the film could ruin her pop stardom before it started. Their big duet in the middle of the film resulted with them sitting far apart and not looking at each other.
7. Oliver and Jenny – Love Story
The 1970’s romance film Love Story was nominated for seven Academy Awards: but it is regarded as a film that hasn’t aged well: it has a 6.9 rating on IMDB and a 57% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Love Story follows old money boy Oliver Barrett IV (Ryan O’Neal) and working class girl Jenny Cavalleri (Ali MacGraw) who meet and fall in love while studying at Harvard. The story itself is a standard schmaltzy affair, but the couple was made out to be a terrible one was when they try to have a baby and Oliver is told Jenny has a terminal illness which he doesn’t tell his wife. Love Story was the film that came up with the saying “Love means never having to say you’re sorry” – I wonder how many relationships that advice has worked for? Roger Ebert also coined the term “Ali MacGraw’s Disease”, where a character has a terminal illness yet has no physical signs of it.
6. Anakin Skywalker and Padmé Amidala – Star Wars Prequel Trilogy
It is easy to rip into the Star Wars Prequels and the romance between Anakin Skywalker and Padmé Amidala serves as a perfect microcosm of all that is the worst in this trilogy. The pair first met on Tatooine when Anakin was a 10-year-old slave child on Tatooine and Padmé disguises herself as a young handmaiden. This started their relationship on a creepy note because Padmé knew Anakin as a child when she was a teenager. However, it was in Attack of the Clones when the relationship became more romantic and cringe worthy with Anakin becoming Padmé’s bodyguard, leading to the infamous scene on Naboo. Both Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman were given horrendous dialogue (it’s hard to make a line like ‘I don’t like sand’ sound good) and their performances were so wooden and stilted that they looked like two chairs trying to mate.
In Revenge of the Sith Padmé is impregnated with Anakin’s baby, an action that is forbidden for members of the Jedi order. However, Anakin has visions that Padmé dies in childbirth and Chancellor Palpatine offers to teach Anakin about the dark side to save her life. What ends up happening was Anakin forcing choking his heavily pregnant partner and she dies because as her robot doctor says “she has lost the will to live”.
5. Humbert Humbert and Lolita – Lolita
The relationship between Humbert Humbert and Lolita is the most controversial relationship on this list because it comes from one of Stanley Kubrick’s most controversial films. In Lolita Humbert Humbert (James Mason) is a British professor of French Literature who moves to New Hampshire and falls for his landlady’s 14-year-old daughter, Dolores “Lolita” Haze (Sue Lyon) and marries her mother to get close to her. After Humbert kills Lolita’s mother he takes Lolita from town-to-town and pretends to be father-and-daughter as they secretly continue their relationship.
The obvious reason why the relationship is inappropriate is due to Humbert’s pedophilia and he groomed Lolita into having a sexual relationship with him. Humbert himself confused lust with love because the two have radically different personalities and interests: Lolita ends up aggravating Humbert as much as pleasing him.
4. Nick and Amy Dunne – Gone Girl
Nick and Amy Dunne (Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike) seem like the perfect couple, both married couple: both were going looking professional people and were living the high life in New York City. However, their marriage ends up being in trouble after their lose their jobs and move to Missouri, leading to Nick becoming distance and has an affair with a much younger woman and Amy becomes isolated. Amy is also a cunning sociopath whose disproportionate response to her husband’s infidelity is framed him for her murder – she disappears leaving behind a fake diary, plants evidence including her blood and pretends to be pregnant. When Amy does result, murdering an ex-classmate and fakes being raped she binds Nick to her where she blackmails him to stay in the marriage by artificially inseminating herself with Nick’s seed and stating he would be made perfect enemy number one if he leaves her. As Tyler Perry’s character said, “I swear, you two are the most fucked up people I’ve ever known”.
3. Bella Swan and Edward Cullen – Twilight Series
Twilight, the story of one girl’s choice between necrophilia and bestiality. Since its creation Twilight has been the whipping boy for critics and audiences due its plotting and writing and one of biggest criticism directed at the series is the portrayal of Bella and Edward’s relationship.
The story is simple enough, Bella Swan (Kirsten Stewart) is a teenage girl who moves to Washington State to live with her father and falls for a hunky boy, Edward (Robert Pattinson) who attends the same high school. However, Edward is really a 107-year-old vampire and both are unhealthily drawn to each other. During the course of the series Edward tries to avoid Bella because of his bloodlust and Bella constantly begs Edward to turn her into a vampire, preparing to turn her back on friends and family.
In New Moon Edward leaves Bella because he fears he is too dangerous to be around Bella, resulting in Bella becoming a danger junkie so she can see visuals of her beloved and jumps off a climb: signs of someone who really needs to psychiatric help. When Edward believes Bella is dead he too tries to commit suicide by being prepared to expose himself publicly as a vampire which is a death sentence for his kind.
Even after they get married their celebrate by literally break the bed, but also results in Bella becoming pregnant after their first shag. Even though the baby inside Bella is killing her, Bella refuses to terminate the pregnancy and the resulting hybrid puts the Cullen clan at risk from the Volturi council.
Bella is also a bit tense regarding her other love interest, Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner) the werewolf, who she strings along despite her commitment to Edward.
2. Paul and Jeanne – Last Tango in Paris
Last Tango in Paris is a controversial movie from the ’70s from Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci that starred Marlon Brando. Brando stars as Paul, a grieving middle-aged American man who rendezvous with a beautiful Parisian woman, Jeanne (Maria Schneider)for anonymous sex. But as their relationship progresses it becomes more abusive and the sex rougher, including the infamous anal sex scene and ends with Jeanne killing Paul to escape his control.
1. Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey – Fifty Shades of Grey
The couple who influenced this list also at the top of it, Anastasia ‘Ana’ Steele and Christian Grey. The Fifty Shades trilogy is notorious for being poorly written smut that was based on Twilight fan-fiction and has been criticized by people within the BDSM community seeing the novel as an inaccurate portrayal.
In Fifty Shades of Grey, Ana (Dakota Johnson) is a virginal English Lit student who becomes the object of desire for the reclusive billionaire Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) who sets out to win the young woman over by stalking her. Christian’s actions include going to Ana’s place of work, breaking into her apartment and makes her sign a contract that states what Ana can and can’t do like what she can eat and drink. Yet Ana stays with Christian because he is ‘damaged’. The first film ends with Christian spanking Ana, hitter her on the ass six times.
The roles of Ana and Christian were sought-after roles with actors like Charlie Hunnman, Dominic Cooper, Alicia Vikander and Felicity Jones were linked to the series before Johnson and Dornan. What audiences got were two actors who had no chemistry with each other and during press junket Johnson and Dornan were photographed looking very awkward with each other.